Cloud computing has been there since more than a decade in different forms. It was just not called cloud computing then. Cloud computing services allow you to scale up your business infrastructure instantly and keep on the connectivity with the existing infrastructure. The services and their implementation differs from vendor to vendor. cloud Computing suffers with the lack of standardization due to which interoperability between cloud vendors is very difficult, if not impossible. So it is important for users to select their cloud provider carefully as migrating from one vendor to other could be a very time consuming task.
We have looked into various services provided by major cloud vendors and have compared them for an overall study of their services and reliability. By major cloud vendors, we mean the four leading cloud service providers, viz. Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and IBM. By far, these cloud vendors have introduced a versatile list of service offerings for every need of their customer, as shown in Table 1.
Clearly, there’s cut-throat competition taking place between these four cloud computing giants, with each one trying to out-do the other with better services and pricing. The end-beneficiary is of course, the customer. Though Amazon still remains the number one cloud service provider, recent price cuts by Google and Microsoft for their cloud services has been tempting for users to question their loyalty towards Amazon. Microsoft has made several innovative attempts to accelerate cloud computing adoption for its customers. Even though IBM has entered latest in cloud as compared to the other three vendors, it has paced up pretty fast and gained a good market share including few government contracts, all thanks to the open source community. This year, IBM entered into visionaries quadrant from last year’s niche quadrant according to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant. IBM has highly betted on the open source technology coupled with few of its proprietary softwares to deliver its cloud services. Competition encourages these vendors to innovate and increases the scope for improvements. This is an important factor while choosing your cloud provider.
Nasuni is a storage vendor and annually benchmarks the major cloud service providers. As results obtained from them, Azure servers perform better than Amazon AWS. IBM’s Openstack powered cloud was lacking at large scale implementations. Microsoft Azure performed 56% faster in writing and 39% faster in reading than Amazon’s S3. Overall, Azure was 25% faster on an average than Amazon AWS. IBM servers performed close to Amazon at small scale but kept lagging behind on large scale performances. DaCapo is another benchmarking tool based on Java for benchmarking system memory management, architecture. A test by DaCapo showed Google performed best compared to the other three platforms. Google was overall 15% faster than Microsoft Azure and consistently performed better than Azure and Amazon. IBM’s cloud got side-lined in the benchmark tests but is constantly improving.
To avoid vendor lock-in, it is important to know if your applications and required services are available on another cloud platform as well and can be migrated. For migrating, interoperability between the cloud environments makes it much reliable for adoption. In an announcement, Microsoft and IBM have mentioned their plans to make their enterprise cloud products compatible on Windows Azure and IBM Cloud platforms. That means IBM’s WebSphere Application Server services, DB2 database will be offered on Windows Azure while Microsoft’s Windows Server and SQL Server will be served on IBM’s cloud. We will soon see .NET applications running on IBM Bluemix platform. Such high order of compatibility and interoperability helps users consume multiple proprietary services keeping their options available for future migration. Java, considered as a platform independent programming language, is available with all the major cloud providers, but its implementation with Google AppEngine requires use of Google’s cloud framework which makes the migration laborious. Similarly, current offering of .NET framework is available only with Microsoft Azure, and any plans of migration would have to be completely abandoned. IBM has been open in terms of compatibility, again thanks to the Openstack platform and open source cloud technologies. Most of IBM services are fully compatible and interoperable with Amazon and Microsoft clouds. Google in this case is very conservative but continues to maintain its dominance over the other three when it comes to the service quality.